David Silva underlined his ability to mix it with the class of European champions Bayern Munich after inspiring Manchester City's comeback at the Allianz Arena, writes Peter Fraser
By Peter Fraser - Follow me on Twitter @SkySportsPeteF. Last Updated: 10/12/13 11:18pm
David Silva: Did not misplace a pass in Bayern's half in his 72 minutes on the pitch at the Allianz
Manchester City may not have done quite enough to win UEFA Champions League Group D but Tuesday's comeback win over Pep Guardiola's mighty Bayern Munich will live long in the memory.
With Manuel Pellegrini's side already qualified for the knockout stages, they needed a victory by a greater margin at the Allianz Arena in order to finish at the summit of the standings - although the manager's post-match quotes suggested he was not aware of the scenario - and it proved just out of reach after falling two goals behind in a shambolic start.
However, City can take immense credit after turning around their lacklustre opening to stun defending champions Bayern, who had won their previous 10 European Cup games in a record-breaking run, and the returning David Silva was the star man in the famous 3-2 success.
Bayern Munich v Manchester City starting line-ups
Pellegrini made seven changes to his starting line-up, with Saturday's home match against Premier League leaders Arsenal also in mind. The adjustments from last weekend's 1-1 draw at Southampton saw the likes of Samir Nasri, Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo and Vincent Kompany drop out - the last three to the bench - along with the suspended Yaya Toure.
Goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon was replaced by Joe Hart, who was making only his second appearance in 10 club games, and Edin Dzeko, Javi Garcia and Joleon Lescott were also among those coming into the team. Aleksandar Kolarov was the captain for the night but the standout change was the return of the fit-again Silva, who had been out with an injury for a month.
Story of the game
City found themselves two goals down through early Bayern efforts from Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze inside 12 minutes as the visitors' defensive frailties, which have been a theme of their season, were again exposed by Guardiola's hosts. It looked like it was being set up for another rout to compare to Bayern's 3-1 win in England on matchday two but City wrestled back control and the key to this was Silva.
The classy playmaker was operating in the central role of the three supporting midfielders behind lone striker Dzeko. It was a changed formation of 4-2-3-1 from Pellegrini compared to the 4-4-2 which had been destroyed by Bayern at the Etihad. Another difference from that previous meeting was the presence of Silva as a starter after he had only been able to come on as a substitute in the return game, assisting Alvaro Negredo's goal when he did enter that match.
And the former Valencia man, who had not played due to injury since the home win over CSKA Moscow at the beginning of November, was demonstrating all of his brilliance. Before he pulled a goal back in the 28th minute, he had touched the ball 21 times, equal with Fernandinho as City's highest total, and had played 17 passes at a success rate of 94.1 per cent - which were both more than any other City player. Nine of those passes were also in Bayern's half at a faultless completion rate of 100%. Silva's passing accuracy in the opposition half would incredibly not drop through the match.
Silva pulled a goal back for City in the 28th minute after a clever run off Thiago Alcantara
Silva's goal demonstrated his strengths as he cleverly drifted off the shoulder of Thiago Alcantara to meet James Milner's header back across goal. But City had still been outplayed in the first half and their midfield was defensively open, emphasised by their hosts having played 106 more passes. However, City's total of 205 first-half passes was 82 more than their first-half mauling at the Etihad and Silva was integral in that improvement as he proved he could more than hold his own in this class.
Silva played more passes (r) than any City play in the first half and touched the ball 33 times (l)
He seems to glide over the field and passes with such superb delicacy and intelligence. It meant he ended the half having played 26 passes, which was again more than any City player, and he was still to misplace a pass in Bayern's half from 14 attempts. His total of 33 touches was again City's equal highest with Fernandinho.
The second half saw Silva only increase in his influence as Bayern's defending failed to impress. Silva was pushed further forward so he was even on average City's most advanced player after the break. It was his pass which set Milner into the penalty area before he was fouled for the spot-kick from which City equalised through Kolarov. It was also Silva who wrestled possession from Toni Kroos and Javi Martinez before giving the ball to Jesus Navas for the cross which led to Milner scoring what proved to be City's winner in the 62nd minute.
Silva (21) pushed further forward in the second half (r) than before the break (l) which helped City
Bayern, who had won 7-0 at Werder Bremen at the weekend, clearly recognised Silva was dictating in midfield and they started to rough him up, with City's No.21 suffering two fierce tackles in quick succession with around 20 minutes remaining. With that happening, Silva only just back from injury, and an eye on the weekend's game with Arsenal, Pellegrini decided to take off his star man in the 72nd minute.
At the time Silva left the pitch, he had covered 9559 metres and had played more passes (40) than any other City team-mate, as was also the case with his 54 touches of the ball. He ended the game having played 26 passes in Bayern's half with his completion rate still at 100%. He had scored from his one attempt at goal and had created two chances for his team-mates. Silva's impact in City's comeback was unquestionable as they ended Bayern's long winning run in the Champions League. It should provide great optimism for the knockout stages in 2014 regardless of Pellegrini's confusion over the potential scenarios, and subsequent negative substitutions.
"It was a very important game. First of all because we wanted revenge for what we did in Manchester - we played very badly that day. There is not that difference between Bayern and our team. So, today, winning here and scoring three goals without Kompany, Aguero, Yaya Toure, Nasri, I think that shows we have a very good squad, so it is an important victory."
UEFA Champions League
Tue 10th Dec - Group A
Man Utd1 - 0Shak Donetsk
Sociedad0 - 1Leverkusen
Tue 10th Dec - Group B
GalatasarayA - AJuventus
FC Cop'hagen0 - 2R Madrid
Tue 10th Dec - Group D
Plzen2 - 1CSKA Mosc
Bay Munich2 - 3Man City
Tue 10th Dec - Group C
Olympiakos3 - 1Anderlecht
Benfica2 - 1PSG
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|4||Zenit St. Petersburg||0||0|
UEFA Champions League Group D
UEFA Champions League Group E
UEFA Champions League Group F
|4||Paris St Germain||0||0|
UEFA Champions League Group G
UEFA Champions League Group H
Bayern Munich v Man City
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